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2021 Diversity & Inclusion: Minnesota Coalition of Bar Associations of Color

When it comes to increasing diversity and inclusion in Minnesota law firms and legal departments, the wheels sometimes turn slowly.

The newly formed Minnesota Coalition of Bar Associations of Color (MN-CBAC) intends to keep a watchful eye on those issues on behalf of its constituent members.

Late in 2020, MN-CBAC was formed by members of the Minnesota Asian Pacific American Bar Association, the Minnesota Hispanic Bar Association, Minnesota Association of Black Lawyers and the Minnesota American Indian Bar Association.

The groups joined forces to form the coalition in hopes of advancing issues of common interest and concern; provide mutual support and professional development; and collectively improve the legal profession and access to justice in Minnesota.

“It’s an ongoing effort to leverage transparency to help hold firms and legal departments accountable,” said Ivan Fong, executive vice president/chief legal and policy officer and secretary at 3M Company.

The way the coalition sees it, the transparency of diversity and inclusion representation data will promote accountability.

In December 2020, MN-CBAC held a launch event to introduce the collaboration and to disseminate a report containing diversity and inclusion data to an audience of large law firms and corporate legal departments in Minnesota.

The results were eye-opening. In terms of female attorneys, no Twin Cities firm could claim higher than 45%. The firm with the highest racial and ethnic representation could boast only 22%.

In 3M Legal Affairs’ 2020 Equity, Justice & Inclusion Annual Report, the company showed examples of how the manufacturing giant’s legal department has made admirable strides, but with more work ahead.

MN-CBAC would like to increase the number of firms and corporations that participate in next year’s report.

“It’s an ongoing task,” said Fong.

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